Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

December 15, 2008
Kiffin raids the staff

ALAMEDA - Lane Kiffin is still upsetting Al Davis, all the way from the University of Tennessee.

Kiffin hired away assistant offensive line coach James Cregg to join his staff in a role that hasn't been announced by the school.

Cregg told interim head coach Tom Cable about his decision to quit with two games left after Sunday's game -- over the telephone.

Director of football development (and good Kiffin friend) Mark Jackson is also no longer with the team after speaking with Cable on Monday morning. Neither is Kiffin's brother-in-law, Steve Reaves, who was fired.

Apparently Reaves was in charge of duties that included making copies.

Jackson will be paid as long as he doesn't take another job.

"I'm disappointed by all these things, mostly by the fact that someone would quit on this organization, this football team and this head coach at this juncture," Cable said. "It's wrong. It is what it is, though, and we'll move forward."

Cable was a little more than disappointed. He's angry.

Cregg took over many of his duties working with the offensive line when Cable was promoted. He had no other experience with Cregg, who coached a year with Kiffin at Colorado State in 1999 and was hired by Kiffin to come to Oakland.

"You got to understand offensive linemen," Cable said. "This is our world. If I can speak freely here, it's about pride, it's about commitment, it's about trusting everybody next to you. So, to walk your ass out of here is about as bad a deal as you could possibly do to that group of guys."

Other coaches with ties to Kiffin before coming the Raiders are special teams coordinator Brian Schneider (Colorado State) and tight end coach Kelly Skipper (Fresno State).

Cable said he spoke with the staff and no one plans to leave before the end of the season.

Cable isn't happy with Kiffin, noting the NCAA "dead period" begins in five days and Kiffin didn't need to begin raiding the staff now.

One of Davis' problems with Kiffin's interest in the Arkansas job last year was that Kiffin wanted to take coaches on the staff with him.

Cable said he plans to speak with Kiffin about that the Cregg situation. Cable doesn't know if this is just the latest in the Kiffin vs. Al Davis saga.

"You know, maybe it is," Cable said. "For me, I got a lot of respect for him -- had a lot of respect for him -- and then to do this is ridiculous. It's wrong. Wrong in this business, wrong in the business of coaching."

Cable will now run the offensive line in addition to calling plays.

****

Because the Kings fired Reggie Theus, there's not much room in the print edition, so I'll be putting a lot of news and observations on the blog today.

• QB Andrew Walter said he didn't know his confidence was an issue that led to him being dropped to third string behind JaMarcus Russell and Marques Tuiasosopo.

"News to me," Walter said. "Coach's decision, and when they make decisions they have to have reasons behind them."

Cable said he didn't understand why Walter would say he didn't know the reason for the demotion.

"That would be news to me because that was laid out to him and spoken in depth with him," Cable said.

• The Raiders signed punter Ricky Schmitt to the practice squad.

Schmitt spent training camp with Arizona last year and the 49ers this year. He was briefly on Pittsburgh's practice squad.

Cable said the addition gives the Raiders the chance to keep him during the offseason.

"He was a guy that we thought had the most in terms of what was available," Cable said. "It gives a little insurance that way as well."

• RB Louis Rankin was signed off the practice squad on Saturday to keep another team from signing him.

"We've had a number of teams interested in practice squad members," Cable said. "So it was directly related to the fact that we liked the talent and think he has a future."

• Cable said the Raiders were dominated up front which allowed the Patriots to run for 277 yards yesterday.

He said the team needs more from DTs Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren and Terdell Sands.

"They really struggled the last two weeks and it's unacceptable," Cable said "They know it and that's the reason they're here is to play good run defense. You've got be good up the middle."

Cable added changing schemes that didn't need to be changed also led to big running lanes along with players being out of position or being knocked out of position.

• Some injury news:

WRs Ronald Curry (turf toe) and Ashley Lelie (calf strain) are questionable for Sunday's game against Houston.

FB Luke Lawton (concussion) and TE Zach Miller (stinger) day-to-day.

• Saw on Profootballtalk.com that ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports Raiders owner Al Davis would be interested in hiring New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to be the Raiders next head coach.

Would that also mean the end of the Rob Ryan era in Oakland?

After all, it was Rob's dad, Buddy Ryan, that punched Gilbride on the sidelines when both coached for the Houston Oilers.

Buddy was the defensive coordinator and Gilbride the offensive coordinator.

• The Pro Bowl teams will be announced tomorrow. Cable said he hadn't given which players deserve consideration much thought.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha and P Shane Lechler are the most likely to earn spots on the AFC team.

Cable mention that Miller is "playing really well" but won't have the statistics to match other tight ends.


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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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